Curious about Aisha's poem? Go here, to hear the poem "Phenomenal Woman" read by Maya Angelou:


I feel kind of like a tool after all that drama at the end of the last part. I mean, she hugged Big Man pretty much the same way when we got to the Vee. And he totally took it in stride, of course. No visible signs of stress or strain of any kind.

She’d been attacked, she’d had all that stuff to help her sleep—she was just trying to stay on her feet, basically. Probably didn’t even know she’d hugged me.

So, you know what that means, right?

The drama was all on me. Which meant I was probably in a heap o’ trouble, emotionally, with this woman—a new sensation for me. I usually don’t even notice other women on the street or…wherever. Not that much. If I do, it’s like the way you look at art in a gallery or something.

I notice something pretty or something “hot” or intriguing--or something weird, maybe, too, I’ll notice. But having a smorgasbord of sexy at home usually keeps me from making that U-turn after some nice little ass I got a glimpse of. I’ve got a house fulla fine asses. That I can have, you know?

So I shouldn’t’ve have felt any way in particular when Wyatt got hold of me like that.  But you know those pictures that go all 3-D when you stare at them long enough in the right place? How they just open up and you feel like there’s this whole other dimension you’re seeing suddenly? It was like that. Or maybe like how people must’ve felt the first time movies talked or went from black and white to Technicolor—you know what I’m trying to say.

And I did not know what to do with it.

I couldn’t decide if I liked it or hated it or was scared of it or what. So I did what I do best. I rebuilt that wall right quick—stomped all those new dimensions back down flat, pal. I couldn’t let some woman mess with my mind that bad that fast.

It worked for the most part. On the ride home, I was able to sit there next to her without getting all giddy or anything. Even when she fell over and put her head on my shoulder—I put my arm around her to test myself. Tiny tingle. Not the four alarm buzz I’d felt before--genie back in bottle. No worries.

A little flat, the “safe” world. But I like safe. After all the hell years, “safe” was a blessing. We wallowed in “safe,” the girls and me. Grateful for it.

 And I was still congratulating myself when Wyatt sat up and said,“Is that a…ferris wheel?”


“That’s a ferris wheel,” she said, as if checking to make sure she’d heard me right.

“A whole carnival,” I told her.

Big Man looked at her in the rear view and said, “Wanna ride, Lil Mami?”

She fell back against the seat again and said, “I don’t think I need quite so much visual stimulation right now.”

“And the church folks’d be a little put out,” I warned him. In case he was even a little bit serious.

Church folks?” she asked.

“Yeah, this is all their doing. I mean, it’s a carnival, but there are all these social service agencies—“

Her face lit up—she even sat up. Sort of listing to one side, but she was up, at least.

“Oh, I’ve read about this, yes!” she said. “I’ve thought about volunteering. Thought.

“But you don’t do Christmas.”

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